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International Dragon Boat Festival returning to Chicagoland

CHICAGO — A festival that blends ancient culture with the excitement of sport and competition is making a return to Chicagoland in July.

The 11th annual Chicago International Dragon Boat Festival will be held on Saturday, July 27th.

The event, which is hosted by Great White North (GWN) Dragon Boat, is bringing Major League Dragon Boat (MLDB) racing to the Ned Brown Forest Preserve, popularly known as Busse Woods, in Schaumburg and Elk Grove.

Dragon boat racing is a traditional Chinese watercraft activity that is over 2000 years old, with roots in an ancient folk ritual of contending villagers. It later began as an international sport in 1976.

For the local festival, dragon boat teams are made up of 20 paddlers and a drummer. The drummer is the one who leads the team through the race as their cadence clues to team into the frequency and synchronization of the paddlers’ strokes.

Teams will take part in 200m, 500m and 2k races as they look to establish themselves as the best paddlers in Chicagoland.

According to organizers, teams participating in the races will be made up of some of the nation’s best paddlers, Fortune 500 companies, and visiting Canadian teams. Individuals can also participate by registering for the GWN Experience Dragon Boat Racing Program.

This year’s event will take place on the South Pool at the forest preserve and free parking will be available.

Alongside the races, the event will also feature a Cultural Village and a Health and Wellness Village for paddlers and spectators.

Officials say access to the race site and free parking can be found by turning south off East Higgins Road, just east of Highway 290.

The schedule for this year’s races has not yet been posted, and officials say it will be shared on Monday, July 22. Officials say a site map will also be made available one week prior to the event.

Teams or individuals looking to participate still have time to register. Registration and fees must be completed no later than 10 days prior to race day.

Visit the GWN website for details on this year’s event, or for information on how to participate.

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